Sarah Lofstrom, 24, died in Bradenton Friday, Nov. 27. Loyal customers have left the family cards at the restaurant.
"She was really like a butterfly." — Valerie DeArmond
On the morning of Monday, Dec. 1, the regular customers of Jerry and Marti Lofstrom's Whistle Stop Cafe decorated the front doors of the restaurant with cards, flowers and words of encouragement. The Lofstrom's daughter, 24-year-old Sarah Lofstrom, was hit by a car in Bradenton Friday, Nov. 27, as she was crossing Manatee Avenue West. She died Saturday, Nov. 28.
Sarah Lofstrom was a graduate of Brandon High School, a mother of two and worked as a waitress at her parents' cafe.
In the family's time of need, community members remembered Sarah Lofstrom in words pinned to the front door of the cafe.
"(Sarah) was like an Energizer bunny," Valerie DeArmond, a neighboring shop owner, said. "We were just like family."
DeArmond owns Valerie's Attic, across the street from the Whistle Stopped. It opened three years ago. During Sarah Lofstrom's shifts at her parent's restaurant, she would frequently stop in the shop to talk to DeArmond, and to shop for lipsticks and shirts. Sarah Lofstrom's sons, Masen and Kasen, called DeArmond their "friend Valerie."
"She was a good mom," DeArmond said, noting that the boys were often at the cafe with their mom and grandparents. "They are such a sweet family. She really was like a butterfly."
After hearing about Sarah Lofstrom's passing, DeArmond and other Plant City residents helped to start a donation for the Lofstrom family. DeArmond said the money can be put toward a fund that has been set up for Sarah Lofstrom's children or for any immediate needs that the Lofstrom family has.
"They are very family-oriented," DeArmond said. "They are good Christian people too."
DeArmond enjoyed Sarah Lofstrom's bubbly personality.
"She was very beautiful," DeArmond said. "She loved bright colors. She flitted everywhere."
Lofstrom family friend Betsy Burgos knew Sarah Lofstrom for years and vividly remembers her quinceañera.
"I'm going to miss her so much," Burgos said. "She was such a beautiful girl."
Burgos is proud of the support that the community has offered the Lofstrom family.
"Everyone has come together," Burgos said. "Everyone's just been supportive. We're just here for the mom and dad and the family."
A service for Sarah Lofstrom is planned for Saturday, Dec. 5, at Plant City's First Baptist Church, 503 N. Palmer St. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m., followed by a funeral at 11 a.m.
To donate to Sarah Lofstrom's sons, checks can be made out to Kasen Lofstrom and mailed to Railroad & Industrial Federal Credit Union, 1701 W. Baker St., Plant City FL 33563.